If you're a teacher, you've likely encountered plagiarism more than once, which can be very frustrating, even if the student doesn't do it on purpose. When grading, use online tools to review essays that appear to have "borrowed" from a source without citing it. You can also use dedicated software to review all the essays and keep an eye out for red flags when reading. It is also advisable to be proactive and educate your students so that you can avoid infractions in the future.
Method 1 of 3: Use Online Tools
Step 1. Do a Google search to easily review a small part of the essay
In case you come across a sentence or paragraph that you think might have been plagiarized, you can easily verify it on Google. Just copy and paste the writing section you want to review into the Google search bar. Put the fragment in quotation marks so that in your search you get exactly that expression.
- This is a simple and free way to check for plagiarism.
- In case you find it to be a case of plagiarism, be careful to save the link to the website where you found the original source.
Step 2. Use free online applications to review electronic documents
There are many free websites that check for plagiarism, and they are generally more thorough than a basic Google search. You can search online for free plagiarism detectors. After you choose a website to use, you can copy and paste the text you want to review into the website. Also, many websites will allow you to upload an entire document for review. Here are some popular websites:
- Dupli Checker
Step 3. Try a commercial service for a more efficient review
If you need to review a large number of essays on a regular basis, it is probably worth paying for a service that can help you stay up-to-date. If you are an educator, your school may already have purchased access to one of these websites. Otherwise, you can buy a membership yourself. These websites can automatically review all submitted essays.
Some of the most popular services are Turnitin.com and EVE (Essay Verification Engine)
Step 4. Encourage the teachers at your school to use a similar process
If your school doesn't have a policy on how to check for plagiarism, you can suggest that everyone use a similar process. For example, if everyone uses Turnitin.com, students will know that their work will be reviewed the same in all classes. If they know their work will be reviewed, they may be less likely to cheat.
Method 2 of 3: Read Critically for Plagiarism
Step 1. Keep an eye out for strange changes in the format
Sometimes students copy and paste excerpts into their essay directly from an outside source. If you notice a change in the font type or size, this indicates that it could be plagiarism. You should also keep an eye out for seemingly random italic or bold letters.
Try to request a specific font size and type. This could make it even easier for you to detect if someone changes the format
Step 2. Check the references to determine if they are out of date or incorrectly formatted
Ancient sources could indicate that a student copied information from an older essay or article. Of course, if you teach history, students may not use many recent sources, but for most subjects, the more recent the information, the better. Check the source to see if the student could have used it to plagiarize.
For example, if you require the American Psychological Association (APA) format and the student uses the Chicago Manual of Style format, this indicates that they could have copied the sources from another essay or site. Web
Step 3. Evaluate if the essay deviates from the topic
Students often search for essays online to submit as their own. For the most part, these online essays are pretty general. If you ask students to answer a specific essay question, and as you read, you notice that the topic seems to change abruptly, try running the passage through a plagiarism checker.
For example, you could have asked a question specifically about Reagan's economic policies. If the essay begins with an introduction on that topic but then ends by talking about issues that have nothing to do with economics, the student may have used a generic essay on President Reagan to copy
Step 4. Observe abrupt changes in style or voice
Usually it is possible to detect if there is more than one "author" of the trial. If the student writes at the sophomore level in one part of the essay and then switches to more sophisticated prose, check for plagiarism.
For example, this excerpt contains distinctly different styles: "I really enjoyed watching the movie. Director Ava Duvernay skillfully weaves emotion and fact into her portrayal of this pivotal event. All the performances were great!" The central sentence does not have the same tone or style as the others
Step 5. Ask the student to meet with you to discuss the concepts in their essay
Unless you have concrete evidence, try not to start by accusing the student of plagiarism. Instead, ask him to meet with you individually. Talk to him about his essay to get an idea as to whether or not he seems to understand the information in it.
You could say, "You made a very sophisticated argument comparing Shakespeare to more modern playwrights. What was it that led you in that direction?" In case the student cannot articulate answers about his essay, it is a red flag
Method 3 of 3: Avoid Plagiarism and Deal With Violators
Step 1. Talk about plagiarism and define it when assigning homework
Plagiarism is usually an innocent mistake. Many students genuinely don't understand what to quote. As you explain the assignment, take the time to teach students a lesson about what constitutes plagiarism.
- You can say something like "Anything other than general culture or your own ideas should be cited. Direct quotes and statistics should always have a reference."
- If your school has a plagiarism policy, include it in your syllabus. You can write one yourself if necessary.
Step 2. Review the reference guide you want students to use
If students understand how to write appropriate references, they are more likely to use them. Let the students know what reference system you want them to use and spend some time in class explaining it. For example, if you want them to use the APA system, teach them to cite a book and a website.
You can also include a link to the reference guide in the essay guidelines
Step 3. Write singular assignments in such a way that students cannot easily get an essay online
Avoid giving blanket essay slogans like "Write about Winston Churchill" but instead write more complex questions that essay factories are unlikely to have on file. In case you want students to write about Churchill, try something like, "How did Churchill's personality impact how he led Britain in World War II? Give specific examples of how his exuberant personality had an impact. direct effect on the outcome of your diplomatic efforts."
If you teach the same class every year, be careful to change the essay topics each academic term. This will help reduce the number of students using essays written by previous students
Step 4. Follow your school's code of academic conduct to handle the situation
In case you find evidence of plagiarism, be careful to follow protocol. For example, you may need to notify the principal or counselor. There are some schools that have a zero tolerance policy, which means that the student automatically fails homework or even class.
- If you are not sure what the policy is, ask a colleague or your supervisor for that information.
- Meet with the student first in case you think it was an innocent mistake. There are many students who plagiarize without even realizing it. Consider talking to the student first to see if they understand what they did wrong.
- Trust your instincts. If you think something is wrong, it probably is.
- In case you are concerned that you accidentally plagiarized, you can review your work using the same tools as your teacher.